Time Warner's Charlotte News 14 omitted critical information about health care premium prices in a report leading up to state-based insurance exchanges opening on October 1 by only reporting average premium prices while omitting the subsidized prices many North Carolina residents would receive under the Affordable Care Act.
The September 25 report relied on data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which listed average subsidized prices for North Carolina residents:
New estimates show people in North Carolina who shop for health insurance coverage on the federally run, online marketplace could pay more and have fewer choices than the national average.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said premiums for a mid-range plan sold on the health exchange will be $379/month on average. The average cost for that same plan across 48 states will be $328 when the new health insurance markets start.
The figures provided by News 14 represents unsubsidized averages of all people under age 65 but does not tell the entire story for many North Carolina residents. A report by Families USA found that, if Medicaid had been expanded in North Carolina, 868,520 residents would be eligible for tax credits under the exchanges. Yet, as Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy for Families USA explained, this figure is a low estimate because the report assumed the state would expand Medicaid.
The New Hampshire Union Leader exaggerated reports concerning the narrow insurance networks soon to be available on the state's health care exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by claiming residents of New Hampshire will have their "health care choices constrained by Obamacare." In fact, narrow insurance networks are not a new concept and allow insurance companies to create plans that are more affordable and accessible to low-income citizens.
Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau fabricated a quote attributed to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) to attack Medicaid expansion in the state while peddling other anti-expansion myths.
The Richmond-Times Dispatch hyped a concern that "nobody will check" to ensure that people who request subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are actually qualified to do so, despite several safeguards and penalties in place designed to prevent fraud.
Right-wing organization Media Trackers Florida called support for Medicaid expansion "leftist Florida advocacy" by hyping misleading claims about the cost of expansion. However, the cost estimate used by Media Trackers failed to take into account millions of dollars in savings while insuring almost one million Floridians.
A Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial mischaracterized Common Core education standards as "central planning," claiming that "a bureaucracy far removed from any school district" would now control local education. In fact, the standards were developed by states with input from local schools; moreover, no school is required to adopt them.
Florida Watchdog.org, an offshoot of the Koch brothers-funded Watchdog.org, parroted right-wing media claims that Congress is receiving an "exemption" from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by receiving a "special subsidy" from the government for its health insurance. However, this zombie lie is not based in fact and is due to a Republican effort to politicize the implementation of the law.
Five years after the collapse and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, media are turning a blind eye to persistent economic inequality and poverty, and whitewashing the effects of austerity on preventing economic growth.
September 15 marked the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose bankruptcy set off a global financial crash and dramatically accelerated a recession that began in the United States in December 2007. For nearly two years, the American and global economies were marked with enormous job loss, a collapse of housing and investment values, and the looming prospect of economic depression. Five years later the economy has yet to fully recover.
In the past five years, in large part thanks to unprecedented government intervention, financial markets have more than recovered from the 2008-2009 collapse. Since bottoming out on March 9, 2009, investment markets are up across-the-board. The Dow Jones industrial average crossed the 15,000 point threshold on May 7 for the first time ever and currently sits near its all-time high set on August 2. The other major indices are doing just as well. The S&P 500 crossed the 1,700 point threshold on August 2, when the NASDAQ also set a new 13-year high.
Corporate profits have ballooned along with the soaring stock market. CNNMoney reported in December 2012 that quarterly corporate profits set a new record, but it also noted that workers' wages had "fallen to their lowest-ever share of GDP." When Business Insider reported on the same phenomenon in April, profitability had continued to rise as wages continued to fall. Wage growth has largely been captured by the highest earners.
The top end of the economy has recovered from the collapse and recession, but other indicators remain stuck. Stagnant and falling wages contribute to growing economic inequality and diminish the purchasing power of the American consumer economy. The Economic Policy Institute detailed the effect that a decade of wage stagnation has had on the shrinking middle class and swollen ranks of working poor.
Unemployment, while falling, remains a drag on economic growth and has remained higher than pre-recession levels thanks largely to policy decisions in Washington.
Economist Jared Bernstein notes that poverty rates have barely fallen since the end of the recession, yet another indication that the growth seen over the past several years is not reaching the broader economy.
The economy is growing, but media have done a poor job acknowledging the causes and symptoms of lingering structural inequality. Five years after the Lehman Brothers collapse, media have been complicit in exacerbating structural inequalities by failing to cover the issues or grant a voice to groups that continued be to economically disadvantaged.
The North Carolina-based Civitas Institute published a piece on its blog attacking the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by criticizing the number of people who will remain uninsured after the law goes into full effect and urging Congress to cut off funding for the law. However, Civitas, which belongs to a right-wing network with ties to the Koch brothers, ignored necessary context in order to further its misleading narrative.
The New Hampshire Union Leader ran a story promoting the conservative organization Americans For Prosperity's (AFP) misinformation campaign against the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without mentioning major factual concerns with AFP's campaign.
The September 10 news story highlighted JustExemptMe.com, which is a website run by Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire (AFP-NH) to allow New Hampshire residents to sign a petition asking to be exempted from provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The article pushed the myth that Congress is exempt from the Affordable Care Act while only citing the state director of AFP-NH as a source for the piece:
AFP-NH said the administration has given exemptions to numerous groups, including members of Congress, labor unions and employers in House Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi's congressional district.
"When the unions came to the President to ask for an exemption from ObamaCare, he gave it to them," said Greg Moore, AFP-NH state director.
"When members of Congress said they needed a subsidy, he gave them one. When big insurance companies said they needed relief from a cap in out-of-pocket costs in ObamaCare, the President obliged.
The Union-Leader article is just a reformatted version of a press release issued on September 10 by Americans for Prosperity. Yet by repeating those talking points in its news section, the paper legitimizes the message of an indefensible organization that has a partisan agenda, and aids its campaign to manipulate politicians and media coverage of the ACA.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch published an editorial dismissing the alleged "fear and disinformation" surrounding hydraulic fracturing to claim it is "not so toxic," but admitted the process is not safe enough for Virginia.
The September 11 editorial attacked opponents of hydraulic fracturing -- also known as fracking - claiming that they "have waged a campaign of fear and disinformation" about the process, which is "not so toxic as its foes make it out to be."
But the Times-Dispatch quickly pivoted to denounce fracking in Virginia's George Washington National Forest, which provides drinking water to millions of people. As the editorial explains, it's still a process "that uses strong chemicals and relies on heavy machinery," which is "a lot to introduce to a largely pristine landscape":
The U.S. Forest Service is completing a 15-year management plan and soon will decide whether to permit fracking in George Washington. While fracking is not so toxic as its foes make it out to be, it remains an industrial process -- one that uses strong chemicals and relies on heavy machinery. That is a lot to introduce to a largely pristine landscape.
Granted, the federal government owns far too much real estate -- particularly out west. Public lands should not be categorically sealed off from private use. The George Washington Natural Forest, however, is not just any old lump of real estate. It is a treasure that merits close guarding.
The Times-Dispatch's NIMBYism is clearly concerning. It is understandable that the editorial board would not want to contaminate the drinking water and decimate the beauty of Virginia's natural landscape, but it is unclear why it is willing to tolerate such damage in another state. The Times-Dispatch's reasoning that public lands should be targeted because "the federal government owns too much real estate - particularly out west" is misleading, as approximately 3,400 wells, or about 90 percent of those drilled on Federal and Indian lands, are already "stimulated using hydraulic fracturing techniques."
New research shows that the gap between the rich and poor in the United States in 2012 rose at the fastest rate since 1928. This revelation comes at a time when television and print media outlets largely underreport economic inequality.
According to research from economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics, and Oxford University, in 2012, incomes for those in the top 1 percent of earners rose by roughly 20 percent. According to the Associated Press, the share of income captured by the wealthiest was the highest since 1928, a year before the onset of the Great Depression .
The remaining 99 percent of earners, meanwhile, saw a 1 percent increase in income.
The research findings reinforce previous warnings from economists that rising income inequality poses a threat to economic well-being.
While economists have repeatedly shown that income inequality is a real, systemic issue in the American economy, media outlets have largely shirked their duty in reporting the problem over recent months.
A recent Media Matters report on economic inequality coverage in local print outlets found that, of articles with substantial mentions of policies and programs that affect low-income individuals, only 19 percent mentioned structural inequality and poverty.
The lack of coverage of inequality in local print media follows a similar pattern shown in nightly cable and broadcast news. Over the second quarter of 2013, only 9.3 percent of news segments on the economy mentioned inequality and the impact of current policies on low-income households
With news that economic inequality is reaching historical highs, media have a responsibility to bring this to light.
Watchdog.org's Virginia Bureau took a shortsighted view of Medicaid expansion by only accounting for up-front costs while failing to recognize the long-term savings and benefits that expansion brings to Virginians.
A September 10 post explained that the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission -- the group tasked with determining the fate of expansion in Virginia -- is accepting citizen comments online. The piece highlighted the views of the commission's co-chairman Delegate Steve Landes (R), who is an opponent of expansion, and only noted the costs associated with expansion:
"Obviously, we're hearing from a lot of citizens who are opposed, and I think this will just add to that," said Republican Delegate Steve Landes, the commission's co-chairman who has questioned how Virginia can afford expanding a program it's already spending billions on now.
Every Virginian has a stake in the future of Medicaid, Landes said. If the state chooses to expand Medicaid enrollment, as it can under Obamacare, the number of Virginians on Medicaid would soar from roughly 1 million of the state's 8 million people, to about 1.4 million.
In the end, federal funding and state funding still comes from the same place - taxpayers' pockets.
While Watchdog's opposition to Medicaid expansion centers on the costs the state will incur, the post omits numerous ways in which the state will benefit financially, both directly and indirectly, from expansion.
Expanding Medicaid would cover up to an additional 430,000 Virginians who are currently uninsured for only 5.2 percent more than the state would have to pay without the Affordable Care Act. In addition, as a fact sheet on Medicaid expansion in Michigan explained, expanding Medicaid will give previously uninsured patients "access to primary care, lowering costs and improving overall health."
A Colorado newspaper has repeatedly run an anti-Semitic ad depicting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, as a puppet-master who controls a state senator the ad's sponsor is seeking to recall from office for supporting stronger gun laws.
The September 8 and 9 editions of the Pueblo Chieftain featured the half-page advertisement. The group responsible for the ad, Pueblo Freedom and Rights, is credited with starting the campaign to recall the ad's target, State Sen. Angela Giron, over her support for legislation that expanded background checks on gun purchases and imposed a 15-round limit on firearm magazine size. Early voting is underway with the election concluding on September 10.
The depiction of a Jewish leader as a puppet-master is widely acknowledged as anti-Semitic imagery because of its relation to conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the political process or global economy.
The ad apparently is a play on the fact that a group backed by Bloomberg has contributed a substantial amount of money in opposition to the recall effort. The recall elections targeting Giron and Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) have drawn significant outside spending both for and against the recall, including more than $361,000 spent by the National Rifle Association in favor of the recall.
The Chieftain's decision to allow the publication of Pueblo Freedom and Rights' ad follows a call by progressive groups for a local media outlet to disaffiliate from the Chieftain over its coverage of the recall election.
The Ohio branch of the media watchdog organization Media Trackers pushed for the media to cover at least eight conservative myths about Medicaid that either lack crucial context, have been widely debunked, or originate from conservative think tanks with a history of distorting the truth.